UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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Genworth made some big changes recently that have shifted the company’s focus away from life insurance and onto long-term care coverage. Their market focus is on retirees and those approaching retirement, although products are available to everyone.
About Genworth Financial
Founded in 1871 under the name The Life Insurance Company of Virginia, the company now known as Genworth Financial took a few twists and turns to its current status. They were founded by two investors in Petersburg, Virginia, and saw a major expansion in the first decade.
Starting in 1986, the company saw a series of acquisitions and changes. It was in that year that they were acquired by Combined Insurance, which became AON Corporation the following year.
GE Capital bought AON’s life insurance business in 199. This led to the creation of Genworth Financial under the General Electric name in 2004. By 2006, however, GE had sold off its interest, and several restructuring changes followed. In 2016 Genworth was purchased by international holding company China Oceanwide Holdings Group.
In spite of all the shuffling, Genworth’s headquarters remains in its founding state, Virginia, with a branch office operating in Toronto, Canada for the Canadian operations of the company. Genworth MI Canadian went public in 2009, with an IPO raising $850 million. Genworth operates in 25 countries.
Although Genworth sold life insurance products for most of its long history, in 2016 the company halted sales of all life insurance and also dropped most of their annuity business. The decision was made in response to financial losses on the life insurance side, while long-term care appears to be a better bet for the company. As a result, they now focus on long-term care and caregiver support policies. They are consistently among the top five companies for long-term care sales across the country.
Genworth also offers mortgage insurance while still offering a basic annuity option. They continue to service life insurance policies that were issued prior to 2016.
The Genworth Foundation was established in 2005 and gives grants to international non-profit organizations. They focus these grants on affordable housing projects and those affecting the aging population, including caregiver assistance and healthy aging efforts.
The Genworth website has a direct focus on their market – seniors – with a section dedicated to aging and how long-term care insurance works.
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Genworth Products and Services
Genworth’s product list is much reduced from pre-2016 status. They offer long-term care for individuals as well as groups, mortgage insurance, and an immediate need annuity product.
Genworth puts a heavy emphasis on their long-term care products, which are available across the United States and in Canada. The plans offered vary from state to state.
We selected California as a sample state, and we were offered two sample policies for download. Direct information is not offered on these policies on the website, and there is not an easy method of comparison.
The sample policies are examples of available coverage but don’t provide much information that is useful to the average person shopping for long-term care coverage – particularly since most people are not used to reading policies filled with insurance industry jargon.
For one of the largest providers of long-term care insurance in the nation and an international corporation, the lack of policy detail on the website is surprising. They direct visitors to contact the company for more information, which is likely to lead to solicitation. That said, the target market for these products may well appreciate discussing their options for coverage with a person rather than trying to make sense of a list of policy terms on a website.
Genworth works directly with lenders to provide homebuyers with mortgage insurance plans that allow the purchase of a home with a lower down payment.
Mortgage insurance, required by lenders of any buyer unable to put down a 20% down payment on their home purchase, is rarely the kind of product people shop around for before purchasing.
It is unusual for a homebuyer to seek out a specific company for mortgage insurance, as it is usually selected by the lender during the financing process. This makes it unlikely that Genworth sees a lot of business on this product directly through consumers, but rather through a partnership with lenders. That said, their website seems to indicate that they hope to change some of that by engaging customers in the process of selecting their mortgage insurance in much the same way they would shop for any other insurance.
Genworth promises their plans provide affordable payments and tax-deductible premiums, and easy cancellation when requirements are met. They also offer a homebuyer assistance program among other added benefits.
Immediate Need Annuity
Although Genworth previously sold a wide range of annuities, they currently offer only their Income Assurance Immediate Need Annuity.
This is a single premium annuity that is medically underwritten, which does not affect the cost of the policy but may impact the amount of the regular payouts based on need.
The plan can be issued between the ages of 70 and 95, with a minimum premium of $50,00, going up by $25,000 increments to a maximum of $1,000,000.
This plan makes monthly payments to the annuity owner and has to option to add cost of living adjustments. It also has an early death benefit as well as the option of enhanced death benefits.
Care Scout is a Genworth company that is dedicated to helping connect caregivers with those in need. The company works to help employers, caregivers, customers, and everyone in between make the process smoother.
The main goal of Care Scout is to provide professional services that assist in making informed decisions regarding long-term care. This includes a team of Care Advocates, Care Coordinators, Program Support, and local “Field Scout” healthcare professionals.
Genworth does not offer online quoting and requires contact with a representative in order to obtain rates. Given the lack of information on their long-term care insurance plans, it is not surprising that they do not have any quick quoting.
It is hard to guess what rates from Genworth might look like; they are a big company and do not use agents to sell products, so it’s possible they are competitive. Without sample rates, however, it is all just conjecture.
In spite of a general lack of online services in other areas, Genworth does allow claims for long-term care policies to be filed online. The account owner will have to log in to the company’s customer account system in order to access the online claims section.
Claims can also be filed over the phone, or by mailing or faxing claims forms.
The toll-free claims line is available Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET. That line is 800-876-4582.
A 24/7 claims line is not offered, but that is common for companies that do not service the type of insurance policy involved emergency or immediate need claims – such as an auto insurance or home insurance company would.
The claims information section for long-term care policies is detailed and informative. This is a surprising plus for a company that does not provide much detail regarding their company on the website.
Customers can enter their policy number and get detailed information on how the claims process will proceed based on the type of policy they have. The company will then asses the claim, determine eligibility, and proceed to provide the appropriate benefits. Depending on the type of policy, that may take place on a reimbursement basis.
Since Genworth still administers existing life insurance and annuity policies, even the ones they no longer sell, they also offer claims information for these products. Both life and annuity claims can be initiated over the phone, and forms can be sent in by mail as well. There is no online option for filing a life insurance claim.
Information is not offered in regards to the filing of mortgage insurance claims, but that makes sense since it is the mortgage company that would file in the event of a default.
Overall, Genworth offers solid, helpful claims information on their website that is among the most comprehensive we have seen for this type of company.
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The Genworth Website
As we have already noted, Genworth’s website lacks any real information about the products they sell. It gives the impression of being there more for the purpose of assisting seniors with understanding what long-term care is and why they need it. There isn’t anything wrong with this – it markets products fairly effectively without actually proving a lot of detail on those products.
The site itself is simple and clean, and it is easy to navigate as well as to find the information you are seeking. The content is friendly and approachable, featuring a lot of testimonials and helpful articles.
There is an option to make a payment online and also a customer login area where clients can manage policies, so the site does offer some of the online conveniences today’s consumer expects.
Overall, Genworth’s website is one of the easier to use and more information than some of this company’s competitors.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Genworth Financial is not Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited and currently has a B rating on their file. The BBB states that the reason for the lowered score is the 25 complaints filed against the company in the past three years. Of those, 15 were closed in the past 12 months. This is really not a surprisingly high complaint volume, so the BBB’s decision to drop the company rating is a little unusual.
Consumer Affairs, however, does have a considerably larger number of complaints on file. Of the 218 reviews on the site, the vast majority are negative. Of a total of 213-star ratings, 173 are 1-star and only four are a 5-star rating.
Complaints center on rate hikes as well as delays in claim payments or complete denial of claims. There are also repeated complaints of unexpected and very large rate hikes for existing policyholders.
There are an additional 12 negative reviews on Pissed Consumer, where policyholders have similar complaints.
Genworth has been sued twice in recent years on accusations of making false and misleading statements, including a 2014 class action and a 2016 settlement of $219 million. Further lawsuits were brought against the company in 2017. The 2014 lawsuit was a class action brought by policyholders, while the 2016 suit centered around the company making misleading statements to shareholders regarding the company’s long-term care insurance reserves. Genworth eventually admitted its long-term care reserves were under-funded by $500 million.
These are related issues, and the problems did not end there. In 2017, two more lawsuits were filed against Genworth; again one suit was brought by shareholders and the other by policyholders.
All of this makes it fairly clear why customers are complaining about sudden rate increases; Genworth has had to make up depleted reserves and pay out settlements.
The Bottom Line
In spite of making long-term care a focal point of their products, Genworth provides little information on the products on the company website and does not offer rates. They do have a very comprehensive claims section, which is good to see, and gives the impression of wanting to provide the information existing customers need. It would be helpful to see an increase in the amount of information provided for potential new customers.
It is difficult to ignore the lawsuits against this company, and in spite of relatively low complaint volume for a company of its size, those suits weigh heavily against Genworth. One of the biggest things that build an insurance company’s reputation is transparency, honesty, and genuine concern for its customers. Misleading customers is a big deal, especially in a market that focuses on seniors, and so is sudden rate increases in a demographic that is frequently on a fixed income.
These concerns lead us to suggest seeking long-term care insurance with a company whose reputation is more postive.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.